Texas Grand Jury Declines to Indict Pot Grower Who Shot and Killed a Cop During an Early-Morning Raid


Jacob Sullum

This week a Texas grand jury declined to indict a marijuana grower for shooting and killing a sheriff's deputy who burst into his home in the early morning to execute a search warrant. Henry Goedrich Magee, who was indicted on drug and weapon charges (the latter only because he was growing marijuana), said he believed Burleson County Sgt. Adam Sowders was a burglar. "This was a terrible tragedy that a deputy sheriff was killed, but Hank Magee believed that he and his pregnant girlfriend were being robbed," Magee's lawyer, Dick DeGuerin, told A.P. "He did what a lot of people would have done. He defended himself and his girlfriend and his home."

DeGuerin, a well-known defense attorney who has been practicing for half a century, said "he could not immediately remember another example of a Texas grand jury declining to indict a defendant in the death of a law enforcement officer." That sort of outcome is rare not just in Texas but throughout the country, since people who shoot cops invading their homes usually do not get the same benefit of the doubt as cops do when the roles are reversed. (Just ask Cory Maye.) This double standard is reflected in the reaction from the local district attorney:

Julie Renken, the district attorney for Burleson County, said in a statement Thursday she thought the sheriff's office acted correctly during events that "occurred in a matter of seconds amongst chaos."

"I believe the evidence also shows that an announcement was made," Renken said. "However, there is not enough evidence that Mr. Magee knew that day that Peace Officers were entering his home."

If there was not enough evidence that Magee knew Sowders was a cop rather than an armed robber, why did Renken try to indict Magee for capital murder? It was the police, not Magee, who created the "chaos" in which Sowders was killed. His death is doubly senseless: because violence is not an appropriate response to cultivation of an arbitrarily proscribed plant and because, even if we take pot prohibition as a given, there is no need to enforce it by breaking down people's doors while they are sleeping, a tactic that inevitably results in tragedies like this one.

NEXT: Boston Boy Killed in Apparent Accidental Shooting by Brother

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  1. What’s the opposite of a nut punch?

    1. A fruit smoothie?

      1. That sounds good right now.

    2. Taint caress.

      1. Your expertise is indispensable.

        I caress your taint.

    3. An attractive, female cop with emotional baggage and poor selection of mates sucking my dick.

    4. What’s the opposite of a nut punch?



      1. Okay that was solid.

  2. this is the only story that makes me happy this week

  3. …she thought the sheriff’s office acted correctly during events that “occurred in a matter of seconds amongst chaos.”

    It was the police, not Magee, who created the “chaos” in which Sowders was killed.

    And no doubt officials there are reevaluating their policy to introduce violence into non-violent situations.

    1. And the re-evaluation will probably show that they did good, just not enough of it and they’ll ramp up the violence – Time to roll those war surplus MRAPs on all calls and use machine-guns on ‘civilians’ dogs.

  4. The pro cop butt hurt in the comments on this story is great.


    1. Huh? Scrolling through the first few dozen comments, I see maybe one comment sympathetic to the cop, which I found pleasantly surprising.

      1. Iowa48 ? 20 hours ago
        How is it that McGee opened fire on the police SWAT team, hitting a deputy, and yet continues to waste oxygen?
        Most police departments train their officers to return fire and terminate the threat. Is the Burleson County Sheriff’s department staffed with untrained Campfire Girls?

        1. Burleson County Sheriff’s department staffed with untrained Campfire Girls?

          By definition, anyone who storms into the average family home with assault weapons, body armor, flash bang grenades and tear gas is a Campfire Girl.

    2. I read the first 30 or so comments and none of them were pro cop.

      1. The entire comments section has since been deleted.

    3. They’re not happy at PoliceOne. The taunting in the comments really sets them off.

      1. There’s a reason I’ve never visited that site. God what a bunch of sycophantic, cock sucking, roided out shitbags.

    4. There’s also an anti-libertarian town cryer linking to this article and claiming that libertarians believe the only good cop is a dead cop. I doubt my reply to him will pass moderation.

      1. I can mostly agree with that sentiment. Though it’s rather unlibertarian of me to feel that way.

  5. I hope Magee gets home safely after … everything. He’s now the Wikipedia picture of “marked man”.

    1. He’ll probably be gang-stalked for the rest of his life. It’s a little Stasi game that corrupt pigs get to play. You put someone under “investigation” forever and blacklist him and target him for psyops harassment.


  6. Chickens. Home. Roost.

    1. Yes. We know that the cops have abused their authority when Texans stop supporting them.

      Hopefully this will have a salutary effect on law enforcement officers. I think most of them are at least salvageable.

  7. The police are going to go apeshit over this, I assume.

  8. I’m feeling delirious.

  9. PoliceOne was trolled hard on their story. The banhammer was wielded on multiple usernames. The DA is taking a whooping over there for ambiguous comments about the “announce.”

    1. The butthurt is EPIC! As as are the death threats and the iront of anonymous commenter complaining the “trolls” they are threatening to murder are “hiding behind screen names.”

      1. Salty pig-ham tears! Yummy!

      2. Note the first pig comment:

        “Because I want to, because I can, because I had the time or just because. Take your pick.”

        Yeah, you’re not fucking obvious or anything.

        1. Warrior- The war on drugs might be ineffective, but this harmless cop killer was involved in a trade that has killed 40K+ in Mexico. It is hardly minor, and hardly victimless.

          A perfect storm of lying, low IQ and confirmation bias.

          How the fuck does a guy growing weed in his basement contribute in any way to violence in Mexico?

          1. If anything, he’s taking volume away from the violent gangs.

            1. Also, a no-knock on a grower? He’s going to flush dozens of plants and grow-lights in 45 seconds?

              1. I don’t know if the cops even claim that anymore. I think they just claim they need to disorient and have the element of surprise because dangerous criminals and stuff.

          2. The trade is worth killing over because prohibition makes their products so rare and valuable that gang leaders become millionaires from it. People will kill to protect their livelihoods.

            Get rid of prohibition, legalize the stuff, and the gangs will go bankrupt. The victims are of gang violence, not from plants.

  10. I’m not in favor of drug laws and consider myself to be a staunch libertarian. But I follow nearly every law even when I don’t agree with them – and the ones I don’t follow I expect to pay for if I get caught. But I’m curious as to what is consider the libertarian views on the article above. I understand the self defense laws and can see how if falls in line – so to me this article is sad for all parties involved. But I get the impression that many people on this site consider cops to be the outlaws by default – and (that in this circumstance) the mj grower was not only a non-violent offender, but they assume he would have given up peacefully if confronted and so shooting the cop is not seen as a tragic event but as a heroic defense of liberty. Other than seeing self defense laws upheld even against cops, can anyone help me sort out why I should feel happy about these events instead of saddened?

    1. Because maybe, just maybe if this happens a few more times the police will knock this shit off. Even a police commenter on PoliceOne thinks these raids are stupid:

      Posted by 911Respo on Thursday, February 06, 2014 11:05 PM Pacific Report Abuse
      My LEOs will never conduct no-knock raids because they infringe upon the rights of the people and they put my LEO’s lives at risk. Unfortunately I think we’re going to have to have more brothers killed before the idiot Chiefs realize this. This guy should have been no-billed.

      1. Refreshing to read that.

      2. That response gives me hope for LEO’s.

    2. 1. Most of the support for Magee hinges on the fact that evidence indicates the officers did not identify themselves when breaking into Magee’s home. If they had announced themselves as cops serving a warrant and Magee just started shooting anyway, you wouldn’t see much support for Magee, I imagine.

      2. The anti-cop sentiment in relation to this story stems from the perception that police officers who shoot non-cops (I detest the word “civilian” in this context) in cases of mistaken identity or even clear incompetence on the part of the police are given wide deference in court, typically not even facing charges at all except in the most extreme and outrageous circumstances. On the other hand, as the article notes, when the situation is reversed, the non-cop who shoots an officer typically has the full force of the state bearing down on him.

      The moral of the story is, it was the police that initiated the violence against Magee, and while I don’t think anyone should necessarily be happy that the officer was killed, it is a relief that Magee is a free man instead of the alternative.

      1. I detest the word “civilian” in this context

        Indeed, it’s reflective of twisted thinking. Cops are civilians, not military.

        1. Fellow citizen works for me.

      2. SWAT raid tactics are designed to shock and disorient the target. The ability to hear the word “police” shouted and process the thought that you shouldn’t shoot at cops is exactly the sort of reasoning ability that those tactics are designed to disrupt.

        When you pull off a raid on someone whose reaction to a sudden, unexpected attack is to defend himself effectively and accurately, cops die.

        Targets of raids often say they never heard the cops identify themselves. And they truly didn’t, because they were so shocked and disoriented that their brains momentarily lost the ability to process language.

    3. Other than seeing self defense laws upheld even against cops, can anyone help me sort out why I should feel happy about these events instead of saddened?

      You’re welcome to feel however the hell you want to feel about these events. I personally feel happy about this because if it happens often enough, police officers will be a lot more careful about loudly announcing their presence before bursting into a house, resulting in fewer situations like with Cory Mayes where someone legitimately felt they were acting in self-defense against bandits not associated with the state (I feel all police officers are enforcers for large organized crime associations, but I recognize most people here have not yet had that epiphany.)

      1. Don’t forget Ryan Frederick.

        1. Or 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston in Atlanta, who wasn’t doing anything illegal.

          Kathryn Johnston (June 26, 1914 ? November 21, 2006)[1] was an elderly Atlanta, Georgia, woman who was shot by undercover police officers in her home on Neal Street in northwest Atlanta on November 21, 2006, where she had lived for 17 years. Three officers had entered her home in what was later described as a ‘botched’ drug raid.[2][3][4] Officers cut off burglar bars and broke down her door using a no-knock warrant.[5] Police said Johnston fired at them and they fired in response; she fired one shot out the door over the officers’ heads and they fired 39 shots, five or six of which hit her.[3][6] None of the officers were injured by her gunfire, but Johnston was killed by the officers. Police injuries were later attributed to “friendly fire” from each other’s weapons.[2][3][6]

    4. But I’m curious as to what is consider the libertarian views on the article above.

      Good shoot.

      The cops initiated force by violently entering his house, while armed. He was in reasonable fear of his life, in his own house. Doesn’t get much cleaner than this, from a self-defense perspective.

    5. You should be happy that a citizen isn’t going to jail for defending his family.

      1. No, just for the weed. Eventually this shit will end, one dead cop at a time probably.

        1. Most police are cowards. A few incidents like this and “no-knock” raids will cease completely.

          1. Yeah, they are cowards. Watch any of these “World’s Scariest Police Chases” and when the bad guy comes out of the car firing, they run and scream like the little girls they are. It’s no fun when the rabbit gets the gun.

    6. While the death of an individual officer is saddening for those who knew him, it’s fair to say that the “war on drugs” is in practice a war waged by law enforcement against private citizens – which is to say, against us. If someone has declared war on you and attacked you with guns, it’s acceptable and normal to be gladdened by their demise, even if you regret the conflict you have been drawn into by their decision to attack. My dad didn’t hate the Japanese, but he was willing to return fire when his patrol was attacked, and he was happy when the bullets stopped, even if that meant that some kid his age was bleeding out his life on the other side of the ridge.

      1. The US government is of The People, by The People and for The People. A citizen of the US who makes war upon the US is guilty of treason.

        At what point do the warriors waging the War on Drugs become traitors?

        And if it actually is a war, and the other side starts wearing uniforms too, the Geneva Conventions demand that captured enemy combatants (even rebels) be treated as prisoners of war, not criminals.

    7. and (that in this circumstance) the mj grower was not only a non-violent offender, but they assume he would have given up peacefully if confronted and so shooting the cop is not seen as a tragic event but as a heroic defense of liberty.

      Let’s try this next time… send a couple of uniforms to the door and knock. “Police, search warrant, open it up… come on now, we don’t wanna hafta break it down.”

      Nope, they storm into houses as if they’re in a war zone.

      1. Actually, soldiers in a war zone have a stricter ROE than the police do here.

      2. A bitter fruit of the MILITARIZATION OF OUR POLICE FORCE.

    8. It’s a tragic event, caused by a tragic mistake on the part of the officer. Hopefully it will prevent more tragedies in the future.

      It’s obviously the right decision legally, though. That’s why cops should announce themselves and wear recognizable uniforms.

    9. Expecting to pay if you get caught, and not giving up peacefully can coexist.

      1. I totally agree. I was referring to the fact that I understand the risks of breaking the law. If I were to further escalate (not give up peacefully), then I would also be understanding the increased risks.

    10. Thanks to everyone who responded. I appreciate everyone’s civil viewpoint. It will help me as I continuously mold my own viewpoint.

      It’s interesting… the few police officers that I know personally are actually very libertarian and often point out what the cops did wrong when these sorts of news items are posted. Birds of a feather I guess.

      1. The cops you know are libertarian? Where the hell do you live?

        There is a reason that the posters here consider cops to be outlaws by default – we have seen clear, convincing, unassailable, even confessional evidence of it. Here are a few websites to frequent: policemisconduct.net, lewrockwell.com, blog.simplejustice.us, copblock.com, photographyisnotacrime.com, policeone.com, and especially freedominourtime.blogspot.com, by William Norman Grigg, great, compelling, evocotive writing.

        When you read of – literally – monstrous behavior of some “rogue” cop, and then the circle-the-wagons of the rest of the force, the constant and illegal efforts to control the narrative by preventing an independent record, the harrassment of witness that dispute the official line, the egregious mendacity and incessant revisionism by entire chains of command on every. Single. Case. (unless major media covers it and the issue becomes “political”), the ostracism and expulsion of cops that “go against their brothers” and refuse to “back up a fellow officer” (btw, this means writing your report the “right” way, not just defending their safety at the scene), the “testilying”, the withholding of exculpatory evidence, the collusion of “neutral” magistrates and judges, (see recent reason video here:
        https://reason.com/blog/2014/02…..tion-clark) there can be only one conclusion: there are no good cops, the bad ones rule, and its just a matter of how bad they are.

    11. “Other than seeing self defense laws upheld even against cops,”

      What more reason would you need?

    12. You can feel both happy and sad about this. Certainly it is sad that a man lost his life, but we can be happy because this might contribute to the end of no-knock raids – which personally I could only justify in a hostage situation or a similar case of imminent danger to the public. No-knock raids have led to the deaths of innocent men, women, and even children (not to mention many dogs) at the hands of the police. If this is what it takes to remind law enforcement officers that their lives are not worth more than our lives, and that we have hired them to protect us rather than to harm us, then this death will not have been in vain. When law enforcement catches up with the public and decide that they should become peace officers again, I believe the public will become supportive again.

    13. It’s only smart to do whatever you can to not have encounters with cops because you could always end up on the wrong side of a no-knock or some other police brutality.

      In response to the feeling happy, go over to police one and read the absolutely vile comments some of our “brave men” are posting about Magee and people like us. That will give you a fair bit of insight into why people round here react the way they do to cop stories.

    14. Because when cops find themselves getting killed and not getting to ruin the lives of their victims, there will be fewer no-knock raids. If you’re sad for the cop then rest easy knowing that no-knock raids will not be as frequent as a result of his lost life. OR if you’re like me, you’ll feel good knowing that this cop pulled the trigger on his own fate by zealously and aggressively playing the role of drug warrior.

  11. “However, there is not enough evidence that Mr. Magee knew that day that Peace Officers were entering his home.”

    Apparently they were there to enforce peace.

    1. That’s the part that jumped out at me as well. Glad I scrolled down to find it.

      The very concept behind that term is ludicrous. It’s like giving a guy who drone strikes wedding parties a Nobel Prize or something.

      1. The paradigm shift from “peace officer” to “law enforcement officer” happened over 40 years ago. And not for the better.

  12. Bring me my fainting couch…and my reaching broom.

  13. “However, there is not enough evidence that Mr. Magee knew that day that Peace Officers were entering his home.”

    If there was not enough evidence that Magee knew Sowders was a cop rather than an armed robber, why did Renken try to indict Magee for capital murder?

    To play Devil’s Advocate: The DA may have been speaking in very technical legal terms — when a grand jury fails to indict, it is a matter of law that there wasn’t enough evidence to take it to a jury, and it is a duty of the DA to accept the verdict of those charged with judging the law and the facts.

  14. Statement from Julie Renken, 21st Judicial District Attorney:
    “December 19, 2013 was a tragic day for the Sowders’ family and Burleson County, Texas. Investigator Sergeant Adam Sowders was a law enforcement officer who was passionate about serving his community. He was generous, respectful and admired in Burleson County and by our office.”
    “The events on December 19, 2013 are tragic. In my opinion, the Burleson County Sheriff’s Office did nothing illegal by securing and executing a “no knock” search warrant that day. I believe the evidence also shows that an announcement was made. However, there is not enough evidence that Mr. Magee knew that day that Peace Officers were entering his home. The events occurred in a matter of seconds amongst chaos. The self-defense laws in Texas are viewed in the mindset of the actor, not the victim, which allows for tragedies to occur when one party is acting lawfully, but it can be reasonably seen as a threat of deadly force by another. However, the Burleson County Sheriff’s Office would not have been there that day if Mr. Magee had not decided to live a lifestyle of doing and producing illegal drugs in his home. Therefore, we will fully prosecute the drug charges against him. This event should wake the community up that drug crimes are not victimless.”

    A judge wrote this? Supreme court nomination material, this is surely not.

  15. The officer’s death is his own fault for participating in a no-knock raid and his superior’s fault for ordering the raid. If you dress up like a ninja and launch a violent attack in the middle of the night, you don’t get to claim the homeowner should have had the presence of mind to know it was police executing a lawful warrant.

    1. exactly. this story contains a surprising amount of justice. the worst part of the story is that the homeowner will probably face a decade in a jail because he possessed politically disfavored plants and some legally owned firearms.

  16. A very similar event occurred in Topeka, Kansas in October 1995 when a team of police burst into the apartment of Stephen Shively. Shively called 911 to report the break in and shot through the front door as the police were breaking it down. Shively fired at the intruders and killed one of the police. He was charged with capital murder but that charge was dropped. He was also charged and convicted of assualt and possession of marijuan (12 ozs.) This happens again and again and the police (except for the dead officer) suffer few consequences for their lawless actions. In fact, ths officers in this particular case were awarded Medals of Merit. Any one of us can fall victim to this overzealous pursuit of the “War on Drugs.”

  17. Yet another law enforcement officer dies in order that unconscionable transnational corporations and their media enablers can continue to abuse, addict, and poison us for obscene profits.

    1. ahhh the mental gymnastics you leftoids must undergo to make sense of the world…

  18. Can’t the Police think of a better way to execute a search, other than bashing in the door at night? How about watching until the occupant leaves, and then capture him? Why use unsafe and dangerous methods? …. Don’t answer, I know …. Police are stupid.

    1. This one was done in full daylight.

    2. They’re not stupid, they know which way results in the most prestige and overtime.

  19. I love honest cops. They tell you how they really feel about things. Like the belief that they should literally get away with every goddamn thing they do.

    Well this guy ma have gotten away with killing that officer in Texas, however I look at the 8 P.O.S officers on LAPD, last year who shot up a pick up truck, thought to have been a black male suspect on the run, but was two Hispanic females delivering newspaper, costing LA CA, over 4 million dollars. Today Chief Beck put all 8 back on the street, stating they made a mistake and were given more training! THIS IS WHAT I CALL BULLSHIT!

    Mikie, I’ll have to disagree with you on that one. The circumstances to the shooting revealed it was out of policy, as they admitted, but the totality of the circumstances showed that the officers violations did not constitute firing from the department.

    And why are some posters assuming the word of this POS and his defense attorney is gospel? I for one will be giving the benefit of the doubt to the fallen brother.

  20. People who survive SWAT-type raid tactics almost always say they initially had no idea their attackers were police. There’s a very good reason why they say that.

    SWAT entry tactics are designed and intended to shock and disorient the target, to prevent them from forming plans or taking reasoned action.

    The target typically flails around ineffectually for anywhere from seconds to minutes, allowing the SWAT team to get into positions that render any resistance futile.

    Yes they ‘announce’ themselves, but the thought processes required to realize that your attacker is a cop and you shouldn’t shoot them is exactly the sort of thought process the raid tactics are designed and intended to disrupt.

    Most people don’t respond to such a shock with accurate gunfire, but some people do react that way. Especially police, soldiers and people who have been robbed before, who were given (or sought out) the training to do that. A small portion of the population can do it naturally (the trait is most common among women).

    When SWAT raid tactics encounter a person who can go from asleep to awake and shooting accurately in under a second, police die. The raid target usually does too, but when the target lives, the target gets charged with knowing the raiders were police and shooting anyway — but don’t forget, not being able to reason out that the attackers are police is exactly what those entry tactics are designed to do.

  21. Hopefully this will have a salutary effect on law enforcement officers. I think most of them are at least salvageable.

  22. I’d love to see a movie scene where the goons come in screaming “FBI! ATF!” and the defender yells back “XYZ! PDQ! KMA! LS/MFT!” between shots.

  23. This crap about them yelling “POLICE!!!” is a bunch of bunk! Anyone could break into a home and shout “POLICE!” as a tactic of getting the drop on the homeowner with a gun or other deadly weapon!!

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